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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Fri 15 Feb 2013 - 18:01

Seventy-eighth Day of Proceedings - Friday, May 10, 1889






The Court was not so crowded today as it was during the earlier part of the week. There were a number of ladies, as usual, in the body of the Court. These included Mrs. Gladstone, Mrs. Peel, Miss Julia and Miss Agnes Peel, Miss Fitzgerald and Miss G. Fitzgerald, and Mrs. Leicester (sister of Sir James Hannen). The Bishop of Galway was again present.


The parish priest of Adrahan, in the County Galway, Father Considine, resumed his evidence, under the examination of Mr. Reid. He referred at the outset to the boycott of a man named Hughes, whose offence was that he let cars to the police to attend evictions at Woodford. Father Considine was at that time president of the local branch of the League, and when it came to his knowledge that Hughes was boycotted he issued three thousand circulars, condemning the action of those who boycotted him. After that Hughes visited the police, and said, to show how sincere was his regret at the step he had taken in supplying cars to the police, he would give what he had made by the transaction to any object mentioned by Father Considine. The witness denied that Hughes, as he swore in the witness-box when called the the Times, was coerced by the League to make this concession, and emphatically asserted that it was done by his own voluntary action.
Was any pressure put upon anybody to join the League? - Never. Placards were posted up asking people to join, and those who cared so to do at once came in.


In cross-examination by Mr. Murphy, Father Considine stated that there was an annual audit of the books of the League. He acted as auditor. Asked to described the audit, he said: "The secretary and treasurer read the amounts of the expenditure over to me, and I was quite satisfied, and signed it." Father Considine added that he was not aware that there was an increase in the number of outrages in the earlier years of the League, whereupon Mr. Murphy read these figures: -



If that was correct Father Considine admitted that there was an increase.


He had, he proceeded, heard that outside his district threatening notices were sent to tenants to prevent them paying their rents. In some cases boycotting of this character was brought before the Committee of the League and condemned. Questioned as to whether he could suggest any other persons who would be interested in preventing tenants from paying their rents, other than persons engaged in Land League work, Father Considine said that in the poorer districts the tenants who could not pay their rent sent threatening notices to those tenants who could afford to pay, to save themselves. He did not, he added, know that the Land League took any definite action to prevent the increase of crime beyond denouncing outrages. He, in this connection, mentioned particularly that the Branch condemned the murder of Mr. Burke. He, himself, denounced secret societies at the altar, but he did not inform the police that such societies existed. The Father had previously declared that, if the Land League had not been started there would have been greater danger of crime, as the evictions would have been more considerable, and the people were disposed to resist them by all means in their power. The Father also averred that nothing which happened in his parish had led him to believe that the Land League had anything to do with the outrages.


Now (asked the learned counsel), are you opposed to boycotting? - Yes; except where I thought there was justification for it.
What was the line you drew? - As an illustration, I will take the case of Hughes, who sent his cars for the evictions. I considered it was the duty of everyone to disagree with these evictions, as the people could not possibly pay the rents.
Do you think it right to intimidate people? - I think it wrong to intimidate.
As soon as the pressure assumes intimidation, you think it wrong? - Certainly, or outrages; and when a man is prevented from getting the necessaries of life, I think it is wicked and sinful.
Do you draw a distinction between intimidation and making things disagreeable? - I think there is a distinction.
In December, 1880, did you make a speech in which you said, "I tell you that every wretch who does not join the League deserves to go down to cold, dead damnation of distress?" - I may have done.
Do you doubt you used the words? - Very likely I might, but I have not seen them in print.
Was this an attempt by terrorism to compel the people to join the League? - I do not consider it so.
I will repeat the quotation - "I tell you that every wretch who does not join the League deserves to go down to the cold, dead damnation of distress?" - It is rather a strong expression, I admit. (Laughter.)
You admit you have said it? - I may have said what I do not wish to have said. (In other words, the Rev. was forced by the League to make statements at the pulpit.)
Did you do it in order to frighten the people to join the League? - No.
Are these the doctrines of the Church to which you belong? - They are not.
And you are not ashamed of it now? - I am not. I think it was given in the way of advice.
Strong advice - (laughter)? - Yes, strong.
In another speech the Father denounced land-grabbers as renegades of Ireland and the enemies of the people. "Was that," he was asked, "the language of menace?" "No." "What was it?" The Father described it "as an amount of moral 'suasion." The rev. Father stated that he regarded a man who was covetous and avaricious, and who took a farm of which the tenant had been unjustly evicted, as the enemy of the people.
"And what would you do with him?" asked Mr. Murphy - Avoid him, and other gentlemen.
"Starve him if he had a dead child without a coffin?" questioned Mr. Murphy. "Are you," added the counsel, "aware that parents who were boycotted, and had a dead child, have been left without a coffin?" - I was not aware of it.
"Have you," counsel asked, "heard of funerals being boycotted?" - I have not.


Mr. Murphy - Hughes is a very good specimen of a boycotting case?
Witness: Yes. I think it is a very good case. (Laughter.)
Do you suggest that Hughes paying the money was the result of repentance for what he had done, or from fear of the moral 'suasion you had exercised over him? - I suppose altogether it was repentance; but he was actuated by another motive - to stand well with the people.
You would rather not answer my question? - I think I have done my best to answer it.
Is it a fact that three days after the money was paid the boycotting ceased? - It ceased in a few days. "Boycotting does not," added the Rev. Father - who had previously said he thought he had a restraining influence - "go on forever." All we wish is, for the man to express regret for his offence, then we take it off. Hughes did express regret, and to show he was sincere, said he would not even keep the money he got for the cars. That money he gave to me."
In further cross-examination, Father Considine described the manner in which the 15 pounds paid into the League by Hughes was distributed. Hughes suggested that 5 pounds should go to the Woodford Tenants' Defence Fund, 5 pounds to the priest of a neighbouring parish for the relief of evicted tenants, and 5 pounds for the defence of young athletes charged with creating a riot.


Who suggested that 5 pounds should go for the defence of athletes? - I suggested it.
Referring to the murder of the man Burke, Mr. Murphy asked if he believed it was true that several man walked through the blood of the murdered man. Father Considine said he believed a more confounded charge had never been made in a Court of Justice.
Were you present, Sir? - Pardon me, you are asking my opinion, and I give it to you.
Do you suggest the assertion that such a thing did take place is untrue? - I say the constable who said that men walked through the blood of the murdered man did not tell the truth.


Stephen Jarpy, a farmer, living at Ballyglass, was examined by Mr. Hart. He remembered, he said, the morning of the murders of the man Burke and Corporal Wallis. After leaving Mass he went to the spot where the murder occurred, with a man named Caine. He declared that he did not see anybody walk through the blood, and that he did not hear any jeering at all. The next Sunday, Father Considine condemned the murder, and, after the service, a meeting was held in the chapel, at which a resolution was passed condemning the occurrence, and expressing the hope that the perpetrators would speedily be brought to justice.
In cross-examination by Sir Henry James, Jarpy denied that Caine walked through the blood while the bodies were lying in the road. With regard to the man Corbett, this witness said he knew that his rent had been "raised" on him, and that Corbett was unable to pay it. He, however, did not know that Corbett had paid no rent for several years previous to his conviction.
Was Mr. Lambert shot at? - He was fired at, corrected the witness, amid laughter.
Was that for evicting Corbett? - I don't know.


Mr. Reid here rose. He said he thought it necessary at this stage to state that they did not propose to call witnesses to trace the perpetrators of crime. They had no knowledge on that subject, and it would expose them to an inquiry which would be almost illimitable. What they did propose was to show as far as they could the relations of the Land League with crime, and the relations of the persons charged with the League and crime. More than that would be a burden quite insupportable.
Patrick Joyce, the son of a publican at Ardrahan, next entered the witness-box, and was questioned by Mr. Arthur O'Connor concerning the murder. Joyce said he assisted the police to remove the bodies. While he was present no one walked through the blood.


Patrick Cawley, of Craughwell, was examined by Mr. T. Harrington. He gave evidence as to the various amounts he, as treasurer of the local branch of the League, had received for distribution amongst the destitute in the parish, in 1879 and 1880. He declared that whenever a crime was committed in their district, the League condemned them in the strongest possible manner.
During your connection with the League have you ever known one penny being voted towards the commission of crime? - Certainly not.
Have you ever heard it suggested that money should be devoted to the payment of those who committed outrages? - They wouldn't listen to it. It never was suggested.
Cawley further told Mr. Reid that there was no ground whatever for the suggestion that the Land League had secretly instigated to murder and outrage. If there had been no Land League or National League, crime would have, he thought, been much greater.


The Bishop of Galway (Dr. McCormack) then entered the witness-box. He was interrogated by Mr. Lockwood. He was, he said, well acquainted with the condition of the tenantry in Mayo. His earlier experience before he became bishop were in that county, in 1872. The people were living in a state of distressing poverty. They were extremely badly housed. Their staple food was potatoes, and that failing, Indian meal. They were also badly clothed, and, in some cases, nothing but a piece of cloth and a few sacks composed the bed covering. The structural arrangements of the houses, added the Bishop, were simply wretched, and were not equal to the stables and kennels of the wealthy. In 1882 or 1883 he accompanied Sir G. Campbell in his inspection of this district. The hon. Member afterwards called the attention of the House of Commons to this state of things.


With regard to the work of the tenants on the farm, the prelate said - evidently recurring to the period anterior to Sir George Campbell's visit - he had seen the tenants carrying soil on their backs, and depositing it on the bogs for the purpose of growing crops upon. The landlords did not do anything for the tenants. If they were evicted they forfeited all these improvements. In 1879 matters became worse, and there were grave apprehensions of a famine. The people dreaded a re-occurrence of the scenes of 1847-48. Nothing was done by the landlords to help the tenants in their distress. Help, however, came from the various quarters. Lord Dillon, added the witness, incidentally, had about four thousand tenants in Mayo, but, so far as witness knew, he had never seen one of them. The Land League came into existence in those districts in 1879 for the protection of the people, and in witness's opinion, had it not been for that combination there would have been clearances and evictions such as followed the famine of 1847-8. The parish priests took part in the formation of the League, and the Bishop thought the priests would lead the people to conduct the movement in a lawful manner. He was certainly informed that secret societies existed in those districts previous to 1879, and he had reason to believe that that information was correct.
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Mr. Lockwood read a few extracts from the Bishop's pastoral of 1881. In this the Bishop impressed upon the priests the necessity of urging their flocks of discharging all their debts, and not to shelter themselves in their resolve not to do so; behind the Land League pastoral also denounced outrages. Since the formation of the Land League, the Bishop asserted, outrages had decreased very considerably.
How was that brought about? - There was an outlet for the grievances from which the people thought they had suffered. The witness referred briefly to various outrages that had come within his cognisance. They were all committed prior to the establishment of the Land League.
To show that several causes conduced to the discontent of the people, Mr. Lockwood produced statistics as to the appointment of Magistrates. They referred to 1884. There were, it was stated in these, in the whole country -
Protestant Magistrates, 4,509; Catholic, 884.
County Mayo - Protestant Magistrates, 110; Catholic, 20.

The witness corrected these figures so far as Mayo was concerned, observing that there were probably seventy Protestant Magistrates and twenty Catholic. He added that the population of Mayo was composed to the extent of 90 per cent of Catholics.
(The report will be continued.)


Edward Collins, a young man of the farming class, was arrested this morning as he was embarking on board the City of Chicago for New York, on the charge of being one of the Moonlighters who recently visited Larkins' house in Brosna, and shot Mrs. Larkin whilst in bed.


The Leeds Mercury London Correspondent is responsible for the following: - The statement that Sir Charles Russell has received a fee of 10,000 pounds for his services in the Commission Court is unfounded. What Sir Charles Russell's fee is to be is not yet settled, and will depend on two things - the amount collected for the Parnell Defence Fund, and the action of the Government in the event of the report of the Commission being favourable to the Irish Members. It is understood that in that event the Government will pay the expenses of the Irish Party, and that the fees will be reckoned on the most liberal scale.

Source: The Echo, Friday May 10, 1889, Pages 2-3

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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